Most flagship luxury SUVs are trending in the same direction; engines are getting smaller, vehicles are becoming less rugged, and in-cabin technology is becoming overwhelming. The softening of large SUVs makes sense, as most owners will never take their vehicle on anything more treacherous than the grass parking lot of a soccer field. But there are still a few out there, like the 2021 Lexus LX 570, that offers more off-road capability than the majority of buyers could ever take advantage of. The LX is the full-size flagship SUV from Lexus, built on the same platform and underpinnings as the legendary Toyota Land Cruiser. Lexus has only given the LX minimal updates over the past several years, resulting in an SUV with old school characteristics and a surprising list of tech omissions.
Whereas the rest of the Lexus lineup is geared towards hybridization, the LX soldiers on with only one engine option in the US, a 5.7-liter V8, producing an under-stressed 383 horsepower and 403 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent through a robust four-wheel-drive system, with the LX's body-on-frame design and V8 engine combination providing excellent off-road and towing capabilities. Should you be in the market for an 8-seater luxury SUV that can tackle all-terrain and last long enough to be handed down to your kids, the LX is a bulletproof, but outdated, option in the USA.
The 2021 Lexus LX arrives with a few small changes to the lineup, most notably the addition of a new and limited package called the Inspiration Series. This comes on the three-row SUV only and is equipped with pretty much all available features. In addition, a new Glazed Caramel interior color scheme and Nori Green Pearl paint color are on offer while the infotainment system now boasts Amazon Alexa capability. Beyond that, a new Sport Package is coming to the three-row model with unique styling accents and special 21-inch forged wheels.
The two-row version of the Lexus LX has a price of $86,580, before a $1,025 destination fee. The three-row model carries a base price of $91,580, but a fully loaded model will cost a little over $100,800. That MSRP will presumably be inflated a little when the Sport package arrives, but the Inspiration Series offering is already sold out, despite a $99,310 asking price, so there's not much more you can do to make the LX 570's pricing resemble that of a top-spec Range Rover.
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By nature of its body-on-frame design, the LX will remind you of the SUVs from yesteryear with their sloppy steering, floaty suspension, and tippy handling. These all sound like negative attributes, but for drivers who prefer the old school feeling of driving a truck, the LX will feel endearing. The steering is surprisingly heavy for a luxury SUV and when you turn it, there's a noticeable lag before the front end moves to either direction. On freeway on-ramps, the LX can sometimes feel like it's about to tip over, but that's just a reminder that SUVs never used to handle like cars with higher ride heights.
The LX includes an array of drive modes ranging from Comfort up to Sport +, but they feel so similar, it's tough to notice a difference with any of them. Even in the softest suspension settings, the LX bounces around like a truck over rough pavement, though the impacts are met with a soft rebound that won't jostle passengers too much. It's an interesting approach to comfort that feels appropriate for such a large SUV. The LX doesn't absorb bumps, it imposes its will upon them. Coming from a more modern SUV like a Range Rover, the LX may feel like using a typewriter, but some might prefer its old school charms and truck-like driving characteristics.
The 2021 Lexus LX 570 feels like a caveman living in modern society. This old school truck-based SUV will only cater to a small demographic of buyers who value toughness and reliability over flashy technology, but to those shoppers, the LX is unmatched. There are plenty of alternatives positioned at this price point, though none are quite like the LX. Options like the Land Rover Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen are flashier and offer similar off-road capabilities but without the bulletproof track record of reliability.
We recommend the LX for the type of buyer who is entering or nearing retirement and thinks this could be the last vehicle they ever buy. With Land Cruiser underpinnings, the LX feels built to last a lifetime, then you can hand it down for your children and grandchildren to enjoy. Other SUVs outclass it in driving refinement and technology by a century or two, but should you be a driver who prefers how old school SUVs used to feel, you'll find a lot to love with the Lexus LX. An all-new Lexus LX has long been rumored, but with strong residual values and a diehard fanbase, the current model depreciates far less than the similarly-priced competition, making it a solid option to buy and hold onto for a long time.
Optioning an LX is pretty easy in the US, since there's only one "trim level" to select in either the two-row or three-row configurations. We'd go for the pricier three-row, just because having such a large SUV with only five seats seems a bit silly. We'd then opt for the $1,190 Luxury Package with the semi-aniline leather, the $170 cool box in the center armrest, and the $2,350 Mark Levinson audio system, keeping the LX well below six figures at $96,735.
The Lexus GX is a smaller version of the LX rather than one of its direct competitors and as such, it costs more than 30 grand less than the big LX 570. This model is powered by a 4.6-liter V8 producing 301 hp and 329 lb-ft of torque. However, despite being smaller, this model still squeezes three rows into the cabin. As a result, it's less comfortable for second- and third-row occupants. Surely the smaller engine then means a more efficient engine? Yes, but barely. The GX only manages EPA figures of 15/19/16 mpg compared to the LX 570's 12/16/14 mpg. In other respects, the GX is very similar to the LX too, offering the same sort of standard and available features. Since it's a lesser model, it gets dual-zone climate control and a smaller infotainment screen as standard. Essentially, this SUV is a shrunken LX, but if you can afford the LX, its benefits in space are worth the premium.
The Toyota Land Cruiser has styling that suits its off-road personality more than its luxury price tag. It costs a little over a grand less than the Lexus but comes with the same platform, engine, gearbox, and four-wheel-drive system, leading reviews of the two to be similar. As you'd expect, this means similar performance and fuel economy, but the Lexus is the fancier model and its interior makes this clear in this comparison. However, the Toyota can tow 1,100 lbs more than the LX and offers very similar options and features. At the end of the day, the Lexus offers slightly more upmarket features and materials but also provides slightly less cargo space. Essentially, the Lexus is the better luxury SUV while the Land Cruiser is the more practical option. As an everyday vehicle, we'd prefer the Lexus.
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Check out some informative Lexus LX video reviews below.